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Health Service

Greece - Health Service

Before you travel to Greece, be sure to know all numbers to call in case of an emergency. Greece uses the European emergency service number, which is 112. Any telephone including landlines, payphones, or mobile cellular phones can be used to call this pan-European emergency number. The calls are toll free. This is the number to call when you or a loved one in Greece have an emergency including chest pains, unconsciousness, fires, crimes, or severe injuries.

Despite continuous improvements in the healthcare system in Greece, there is still much to be done. Like many other southern European countries, the National Health Service (IKA) was introduced in Greece in 1983. However, health service in Greece is one of the worst in Europe despite the high standards of medical training provided in the country. This can partly be blamed on underfunding of the Greece healthcare sector. Although hospitals in Greece generally have high standards of hygiene, they are usually inundated with patients.

Greece spends a relatively small percentage of its overall GDP on healthcare. Nevertheless, the country has one of the lowest costs of healthcare in the EU. Public health facilities are few and far between in some areas, especially on the islands. Therefore, the country has a relatively high level of public private partnerships in the healthcare sector. It is common for patients to be transferred from island hospitals to hospitals in Athens or other major cities, such as the University Hospital at Ionnina.

The EU has released significant amounts of funds to help Greece to upgrade its hospitals and construct new facilities with high-tech medical equipment and emergency facilities. In addition, the funds will go towards the establishment of mobile medical facilities in remote parts of the country.

Greek citizens often receive low cost or free medical care in public hospitals. Expat EU citizens can also receive low-cost medical care in public hospitals in Greece. Such expats and their families often receive subsidized medical services. However, they may be charged higher rates for certain medical services, including dental care and other cosmetic procedures. However, Greek citizens may be eligible for free essential dental treatment.

It is important to have private health insurance if you do not qualify for health care under the public health system. Due to the poor state of the country’s public healthcare system and the very long queues, it is highly recommended that you have private health insurance if you can afford it.

Health Insurance Options for Expats

Expats in Greece without health insurance should at least consider holiday health insurance. Only basic medical care is covered by the EU Health Card (old Form E-111). With one of the highest life expectancies in the EU, Greeks are among the world’s healthiest people in the world. This is attributed in large part to their diet, which includes lots of red wine, olive oil, and garlic known to reduce the incidence of heart disease and some cancers. Cases of heart diseases and cancer in Greece are relatively low. However, the country has one of the highest smoking populations in the EU. Therefore, the country has high incidences of smoking-related health problems.

Expats who are not covered by an international health insurance policy should consider having travel health insurance even if they intend to stay in Greece for a short period. Take out a special long-stay policy, a travel policy, or an international health policy if you are planning to stay in Greece for more than six months. The policy should cover you when in Greece and when travelling in other countries, including your home country. It is important to shop around for a suitable policy because terms of insurance policies often vary considerably.

An international policy allows you to seek medical treatment in the country of your choice. Many insurance companies provide four levels of cover including prestige, basic, comprehensive, and standard. The sum covered by international medical insurance may range from €300,000 to €1.2 million per year. The specific fees covered by an insurance policy, including hospital accommodation and specialists’ fees, will vary depending on the company. Although some insurance policies may not cover treatment for pre-existing health problems for a certain period, many international health insurers do not require medical examination for an individual to be eligible.

When taking up a policy it is important to determine if the policy provides the cover you need and if the value of the policy matches the amount of premium you will pay. If you do not have any outstanding medical conditions and are capable of paying for your own outpatient treatment, then taking a policy that only covers specialist and hospital treatment might be a good option.

Common health issues

The Greek population is generally considered to be healthy, with a high life expectancy of 78 and 83 years for men and women respectively. The country has low incidences of chronic illnesses. 5.22% of the population has diabetes, 4 out of 5000 people have HIV, and 9 out 200000 people have tuberculosis. By 2002, 88% of the children had been vaccinated against Polio 3, TB, Measles, Hepatitis B3, and DPT3.

An annoying insect in Greece is the mosquito, especially the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which is known to carry several viruses including Eastern equine encephalitis, which affects the central nervous system and can cause severe complications and death. Using protective lotion or spray may be an effective way to keep them at bay.

Venomous snakes are also rampant in Greece including coral snakes, adders, and the less common viper. To avoid being bitten, it is advisable to always wear long trousers, socks, and boots when walking through undergrowth where snakes may be present.

Counseling Services in Greece

Anetta Alexandridi – Synthesis offer an affordable and convenient private online counseling platform. This is a safe and private online environment where they match you with a counseling professional who is best suited to your needs.
Telephone number: 2106712150
Email address: a netta@synthesiscenter.gr

Vasiliki Ntoumou Counselling & Therapists - This psychologist is trained in systemic psychotherapy and provides counseling sessions for both adults and adolescents regarding sexual issues, relationships and family. Group and individual sessions are available.
41 Aristofanous Street, Center, 152 32 Chalandri Attica Greece

Read more about this country

Information courtesy of Carol Palioudaki, author of The Cool Guide to Living in Crete, available at www.livingincrete.net

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.